Sandwiches of the future.
September 19, 2010 5:50 PM   Subscribe

I enjoy sandwiches, but I am looking for an alternative filler to the standard meat and cheese that I would normally put in them.

The goal of the filler, at least to me, is to provide both protein and fat to the carbohydrates of the bread. Meat and cheese do a great job of this, but I am tired of eating cheese, and I won't be eating processed lunch meats any longer.

I am looking for cheap, fast alternative ideas like humus, spinach and carrot sandwiches. (I would note PB&J, but that as a given.)

Any favorites that would add both protein and fat?
posted by 517 to Food & Drink (59 answers total) 141 users marked this as a favorite
Put some white beans in the blender with a bit of garlic (to taste), some olive oil, salt and pepper, and any other spices or herbs that might strike your fancy on any given day.
Blend and adjust the taste.
Spread on the bread with roasted red pepper, grilled vegetables or anything else you might desire.
A good white bean paste is infinitely variable.
posted by Seamus at 5:54 PM on September 19, 2010 [12 favorites]

Avocado slices!
posted by frobozz at 5:55 PM on September 19, 2010

BLT, with really thick B, different types of T and L, and really good bread.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 5:55 PM on September 19, 2010

Leftover roast bird (chicken, turkey, duck, etc) is amazingly delicious with just (real, quality) mayo on good bread. Bonus points for a tomato slice.
posted by phunniemee at 5:58 PM on September 19, 2010 [2 favorites]

Marinated veggies are good sandwich filler. Olive salad (like in muffalettas) is traditional, but there's room to mess around. Me, I like kimchi and cucumber slices on buttered bread, but that might not generalize well.
posted by nebulawindphone at 5:59 PM on September 19, 2010

All time favorite sandwich:
cheddar cheese (sorry)
salt & pepper to taste

Second favorite sandwich:
smoked salmon
a powerful green like arugula or watercress - something with some real flavor to it
a little sliced red onion
good butter, or maybe cream cheese (boursin or st. andre cheese if you're feeling special), or really any simple mild-to-slightly-tangy lubricant. I suppose mayo could work.
on dark bread of course

Third favorite sandwich:
white bean paste as mentioned above
red bell pepper
red onion
posted by Sara C. at 6:00 PM on September 19, 2010 [8 favorites]

Oh, forgot to add cukes to the smoked salmon sandwich, sorry.
posted by Sara C. at 6:01 PM on September 19, 2010 [1 favorite]

It's not clear whether you're interested in cutting out meat in general, or just nasty processed lunchmeat-- but if it's the latter, I'd highly recommend "real" meat sandwich fillers like thinly sliced rare roast beef with horseradish, sliced cooked ham, BBQ pulled pork, and grilled marinated chicken breast.

Egg salad, and chicken salad (the kind with celery and mustard and yummy, yummy mayo) are also delightful sandwich fillers-- a bit time-consuming in prep, maybe but a single batch will fill a whole week's worth of lunches.
posted by Bardolph at 6:01 PM on September 19, 2010

Nut butter and fruit sandwiches are among my favorites.

Peanut butter and apple
Peanut butter and banana
Peanut butter and pear

Almond butter with the above.

Cashew butter and raisin
Cashew butter and dates

Basically, play around with variations, and you can include veggies too, as in -

Peanut butter, shredded carrots, and raisins
posted by cmgonzalez at 6:04 PM on September 19, 2010

gouda & pear slices
posted by monkeymonkey at 6:06 PM on September 19, 2010

I won't be eating processed lunch meats any longer.

Is that because of the processing, or the meat?

Because if you're eliminating meat (but not factory-processing), there's faux-meat like Quorn (wiki) and similar ranges.
posted by K.P. at 6:10 PM on September 19, 2010

Nate's Meatless Meatballs (also OEM'd as Trader Joe's) are great! I like the Zesty Italian best but the other flavors are good too.

Don't mess around with heating them up for a sandwich; thaw, slice in half, assemble sandwich, and eat. If they don't have enough fat just add avocado or mayo (I actually like veganaise better 'tho I'm not vegan but that's just personal preference).

Also, instead of bread you can use "* patties", where * is some kind of carb (rice and breadcrumbs work best, although Nate's meatballs work too, they just need some breadcrumbs as a binder) combined with some herbs and chopped vegetables, mixed with egg, and fried (they're also good just by themselves).

I usually make them to use up leftovers, but you can purpose-make them too.

Mmmm, sandwiches!
posted by dolface at 6:11 PM on September 19, 2010 [1 favorite]

Breaking just a bit away from the traditional sandwich mold, how about refried beans and salsa, with or without cheese, on a wheat tortilla or other wrap? Drape it in a paper towel and microwave it for a minute and it's quite tasty.

Of course, sardines, lettuce, paper thin slices of red onion, red wine vinegar and a sprinkle of kosher salt make the best sandwich ever, but it's not quite as dead simple as what you seem to be looking for.
posted by mollweide at 6:13 PM on September 19, 2010

Real meat and real cheese. Seriously. Stop buying and eating crop. The plastic stuff is for plastic sandwiches for the store window. Every sandwich ingredient should be delicious when consumed on its own for a deliciously awesome combination inside the sandwichy goodness. Would you eat some of the meat or cheese you put in your sandwich as a snack? Would it taste like anything? If the answer to these questions is no or "ewww gross," then You're Doing It Wrong.

A sandwich press makes a big difference, and is quite affordable.

One of the most delicious sandwiches I've ever had was a little bit of boysenberry jam, top-notch gruyere cheese, and banana, all lightly grilled. Simplicity and good ingredients are key.
posted by zachlipton at 6:16 PM on September 19, 2010 [1 favorite]

My go-to sandwich: vegenaise, tofurky, tomato, mushrooms, lettuce and cheese

Treat sandwich (takes a bit more time): toasted bread, tamari-marinated tofu, lettuce and tomato

Comfort sandwich: peanut/cashew butter and banana, pressed panini-style

Sandwich I grew up on and stil enjoy, but which seems to gross some people out: peanut butter and cheese
posted by analog at 6:23 PM on September 19, 2010 [1 favorite]

Go for some hummus-style variations, like black bean hummus and roasted red pepper hummus. Yum.
posted by bluedaisy at 6:26 PM on September 19, 2010

I found some ginger jam, and it made my PB&J sit up something fierce. I am thinking some fresh basil leaves might be a nice addition.
posted by GenjiandProust at 6:26 PM on September 19, 2010 [2 favorites]

refrfied beans make a fantastic sandwich spread
posted by 5_13_23_42_69_666 at 6:29 PM on September 19, 2010

Banana and mayo sammich. Yum.
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 6:29 PM on September 19, 2010

I really like egg salad, and it's simple and quick to make enough egg salad for several sandwiches throughout the week. I just cover my eggs so there's around an inch of water above the eggs, and then put on a high flame for 20 minutes. Take them out, drop them into a bowl with cold water and ice cubes, peel, and mash in a clean bowl with a potato masher. (Or a fork, I guess, but I like using the potato masher.) Add way less mayo than you think you need. My suggestion is about a teaspoon of mayo per egg, maybe even less if you plan to put mayo on the sandwich.

Other things to add: fresh herbs (dill! thyme! tarragon! parsley!); onion or scallion; pickle; garlic grated in on a microplane; spicy mustard...

I like to put mayo on the bread, and add romaine lettuce and thin slices of tomato and (soy, but you can use whatever) bacon. Other people in my family also eat this combo, but in a wrap or flour tortilla instead of on bread.

I also like to pan-fry tempeh and eat it on a sandwich with mayo, or with mustard and sauerkraut, or mushroom gravy (although mushroom gravy might be a little more time intensive, plus it gets soggy if you don't eat it right away, not not everyone likes soggy sandwiches).
posted by shamash at 6:50 PM on September 19, 2010 [2 favorites]

Sounds gross, tastes amazing.
Brown rice with miso added after cooking. (Just a wee bit for me.)
Steamed carrot slices
Thinly spread natural PB on whole wheat chapati or similar to your liking.
Add rice and carrots. Roll up munch away.
posted by littleflowers at 6:50 PM on September 19, 2010 [1 favorite]

Oh, and for any salad preparation (egg salad, chicken salad, etc.), if you are planning to keep it more than a day or two, either put it into a really good tupperware-type container, or make sure the cling film is pressed right against the contents of the bowl. (That is also good advice for dips, like french onion dip or guacamole.) That keeps the flavors much fresher.
posted by shamash at 6:52 PM on September 19, 2010

cream cheese + walnuts + dried cranberries
it's good!
tip: you might want to put a little cream cheese to each slice of bread to get the cranberries and the walnuts to "stick."
posted by Neekee at 6:58 PM on September 19, 2010

Napoli marinated eggplant in oil or better yet Valli hot eggplant strips in oil adds crunch (yes, crunch), spice and zing to your sandwhich, just like good antipasto.
posted by furtive at 6:59 PM on September 19, 2010

My favorite non-meat non-cheese sandwich spread: peanut butter and ripe bananas mashed together, spread on bread, and then grilled or toasted. Blend in some silken tofu and you've got great portable high-protein meals for camping or other traveling.

Egg salad is another good one. Make it yourself.

Avocados are great on sandwiches, especially with chicken or turkey--not the processed sliced crap--and a slice of tomato.

Others in the real-meat category:
Roast beef with your favorite sandwich spreads
Meatballs and tomato sauce on a sub roll
Leftover meatloaf with gravy or ketchup
Chicken salad

Goat cheese and roasted red peppers is another favorite of mine; maybe goat cheese is different enough from the cheeses you've been eating?

And of course there is no end to possibilities for filling non-sandwich options, like burritos and wraps.
posted by rhiannonstone at 7:08 PM on September 19, 2010

Falafel and hummus
posted by jojobobo at 7:09 PM on September 19, 2010

This Smashed Chickpea Salad is aces as a sandwich filling.
posted by grapesaresour at 7:17 PM on September 19, 2010 [2 favorites]

Nthing the call to buy real meat, or tossing some good cuts into a slow cooker and letting it do its magic...the meat (or faux meat, but that takes more prep time to prepare right) is key!

You already mentioned hummus, but that stuff is great - protein, healthy fats, variety of flavors. So much better than mayo, and can even take the place of cheese in the classic sandwich equation.

This site has a considerable gallery of delicious combinations to riff on.
posted by mellavellum at 7:20 PM on September 19, 2010

chicken, red peppers and just a leeeetle bit of peanut satay sauce. Sometimes I add avocado.
posted by gaspode at 7:29 PM on September 19, 2010

Portobello mushrooms! Marinated in... um.. something. I just eat them, I don't make them.
posted by madcaptenor at 7:30 PM on September 19, 2010

Egg Salad with Sardines and chopped Green Olives.
posted by Confess, Fletch at 7:36 PM on September 19, 2010 [1 favorite]

Shredded carrots, raisins and chopped toasted pecans mixed with cream cheese. (One might substitute mashed tofu for the cream cheese though I've never tried it.)
posted by Jode at 7:42 PM on September 19, 2010

Have you seen this previous question?
posted by zinfandel at 7:52 PM on September 19, 2010

I have been a fan of cucumber and cream cheese sandwiches. Also, for a sweet flavor, I like peanut butter and banana sandwiches.
posted by slavlin at 7:54 PM on September 19, 2010

You probably had an inkling that it existed: The I heart Sandwiches blog. Enjoy!
posted by nadise at 8:11 PM on September 19, 2010

Maybe this is obvious, but... tuna salad sandwich? It's easy to forget about making tuna salad when you get into the habit of buying cold cuts all the time. It takes a few minutes to make the salad depending on what you put in it, but you can make a big enough batch to last for a few days.

And although I see you're tired of eating cheese, a very refreshing and different sort of sandwich is the caprese sandwich, which consists of fresh mozzarella, tomato, basil, and pesto spread. Here is a very nice looking example of one.
posted by wondermouse at 8:59 PM on September 19, 2010

I love this place. Maybe this will give you some ideas. Hm, they don't show the okonomiyaki one..
posted by Seboshin at 9:04 PM on September 19, 2010

n-thing "just use real meat." Personally, I just love a nice cut of brisket, simmered for hours with all the onions you can cram into your roasting pan and/or crockpot. Slice the brisket thin, and serve on crusty rolls with some good Dijon mustard. Yummmmmmmm.
posted by deadmessenger at 9:22 PM on September 19, 2010

Spread labne cheese on a pita, crumble on falafel, add dill pickle slices, roll.
posted by klarck at 9:52 PM on September 19, 2010

Grilled or baked eggplant slices, a little tomato sauce, a liitle cheese (sorry).
posted by Hildegarde at 10:13 PM on September 19, 2010

My all-time favorite sandwich is similar to Sara C.'s (sprouts, avocado, cheese), but add a thin spread of mayo on one bread slice (sprinkled with sesame seeds) and a thin spread of Vegemite on the other slice. Now, you may not be a Vegemite fan, but it goes really well with sprouts. Gives it a sort of nutty flavor. You can even throw out the cheese, because the Vegemite and avocado are already so good that you need nothing else.

If you're packing it for lunch, you'll want to bag the sprouts and add them to the sandwich just before eating, or else everything goes soggy.
posted by zerbinetta at 10:30 PM on September 19, 2010

I love this thread! Nom!

As furtive mentioned, eggplant! I like to roast a slice of eggplant brushed with olive oil, (you could also batter it pre-roasting) for about 20 minutes. With spicy greens and a bit of mayo or goat cheese, it makes a very satisfying sandwich. Eggplant and shredded carrots combination is also one that I really like, but doesn't seem to appeal to many.

Also, unless you are anti-tofu, try a pan fried slice of extra firm tofu. This one goes very well with hummus and roasted peppers. Or roasted pepper hummus, oooh, time for a trip to Trader Joe's.
posted by copperbleu at 12:11 AM on September 20, 2010

Leftover curry, even if it's cold. Sorry if that sounds disgusting, it's really delicious. Any kind is good, but my favourite is cold curried chicken. Cold curried veg works too.
posted by Ziggy500 at 2:24 AM on September 20, 2010

For protein, I add a palmful of broken walnuts to veg-oriented sandwiches. Cheese, heavy condiments, or sufficiently nooked-and-crannied toast will keep them in place.

My secret ingredient for sandwiches is chutney. Just a schmear; too much chutney, and the sweetness becomes very obvious. The right amount punches up everything else. If you are fortunate enough to live near North Carolina, you can get this amazingly tangy stuff in snazzy supermarkets:
posted by bendybendy at 3:39 AM on September 20, 2010

Ah, sandwiches. They are the call to genius. It is one of the few areas where people really can let themselves go. Here are some suggestions:

1) try other cultures' sandwiches such as, the Vietnamese banh mi which takes the baguette sandwich to new places and flavors or tortas, mmm...tortas which are a tasty, tasty;

2) playing around with jams, jellies and chutneys: bacon, brie and cranberry sauce/preserves/jam; blue cheese and fig spread; bacon and onion marmalade. Now, some people do not like tomatoes and there is nothing wrong with that but if you need that love apple flavor then savory preserves like tomato jelly/jam usually passes muster;

3) you know why bacon is the devil's meat? 'Cause it is damn tasty and tempting like sex. Oh yeah, the foodies say bacon and its magic meat compatriots are out but really that is someone talking about how doing threesomes and orgies really is more a logistics problem. Not Zen at all. So, bacon sandwiches such as bacon, avocado, with egg or turkey is good and provide greens like zesty sprouts or arugula for a bit of bite;

4) for the meat heavy folks I always suggest: marinated roast beef (your favorite deli counter roast beef like Boars Head with olive oil, capers, red wine vinegar, touch of mustard powder, garlic, chopped onions, olives and pepper) or taking the humble cube steak (sliced and sauted in pan that you had earlier sauted, in butter, sweet onion) with a grilled roll; thin sliced tri-tip cut against the bias that has been roasted with your favorite rub (hungarian paprikia, kosher salt, black pepper and rosemary powder)

A sandwich can be broken down to:
* starch conveyance/encasing unit (bread slices, rolls, tortillas, rice, seaweed etc.)
* protein (meat, tofu, tempeh, cheese, beans, sour cream)
* condiment or moistening agent (mayo, oil, spread)
* seasoning (whether on the protein or plant matter)
* plant (roasted, raw, marinated, pickled, cooked, rehydrated)

Take any or all of anything after starch encasement and you have a very flexible canvas that the world has many variations and you can have fun with.

I needs to make me some of the devil's meat for my hawaiian sweet bread now.
posted by jadepearl at 4:07 AM on September 20, 2010 [1 favorite]

I love this Smashed Chickpea Salad. On good wheat bread, with some roasted red peppers it's an awesome alternative sandwich.

I usually make beans and such from dried but this recipe works better for me using canned chickpeas.
posted by Saminal at 4:19 AM on September 20, 2010

Here's how to make the best tuna salad sandwich you've ever eaten. Makes plenty, keeps very well in the fridge.

Drain 3 cans of tuna packed in water (not albacore). Add the following, depending on your personal preferences, but plenty of everything!

Worchestershire sauce (several hearty dashes)
chopped celery
chopped red onion
sweet pickle relish
enough mayo to moisten
optional: sunflower seeds

My husband eats it with lettuce and tomato. I slice a sweet pickle instead. Good on hearty wheat bread, soft white bread, or just scooped up on crackers, but then you've left Sandwich Land.

And I also recommend getting a sandwich grill (called a panini maker where we bought it). One of the few appliances that actually changed our life -- or at least our eating habits.
posted by kestralwing at 5:28 AM on September 20, 2010

Avocado, coarse ground black pepper, tomato, smoked salmon.
posted by flabdablet at 5:53 AM on September 20, 2010 [1 favorite]

Beans, rice, veggies and spices blended together and baked. Slices of that with barbecue sauce or whatnot are yummy.
posted by Aversion Therapy at 6:37 AM on September 20, 2010

cream cheese + raisins
cream cheese + chutney

peanut butter, strawberry jam & mayo (seriously- it's delicious)
posted by belladonna at 6:43 AM on September 20, 2010

Alton Brown's split pea burgers
posted by I am the Walrus at 7:01 AM on September 20, 2010

It's still a dairy product, but cream cheese is an excellent spread when you want to do more "ladies who lunch" type sandwiches, you know, whole grain or dark bread, cukes, split grapes, specialty jams (zucchini-ginger is my current winner), stuff like that. You can also experiment with other nut butters besides PB. Nthing avocado and lentil/bean pastes, mm.

You mention not using processed lunch meat much longer, but, y'know, any leftover protein will do (and probably tastes much better, eee)--meatballs, meatloaf, pot roast, some cheap shredded rotisserie chicken, smoked tinned fish, leftover pork (!!), etc.
posted by ifjuly at 7:20 AM on September 20, 2010

Steamed green beans! A chilean place here in Boston does various sandwiches with green beans -- I like the cheese, quac, roasted red pepper, hot sauce, and green bean, myself. Plus, green beans have protein.

I am like most of their enthusiasts, not usually a fiend for green beans. But they're so good!
posted by ldthomps at 9:40 AM on September 20, 2010

Came here to post my ATF, but flabdablet already did it (essentially):

Avocado, coarse ground black pepper, tomato, smoked salmon
and lots of salt, on toast.'

Have to try the salmon variation, which supplies it's own salt, but the toasting is essential for texture variation. Also, skip mushy white bread!
posted by IAmBroom at 6:25 PM on September 20, 2010

Ziggy500 beat me to it on one of my favorites, but for a variation, take a roll, hollow it out from one end and fill it with the leftover curry of your choice.

In the weird (and real-meaty) category, duck fat and salt. Not rendered fat from a gourmet deli tub, but real live dripping from a well seasoned roast duck.

Freshly cooked shrimp/prawns, salt, vinegar. Make sure you've got vinegar, bread and butter that you truly love, and eat immediately after making.
posted by Ahab at 7:15 AM on September 21, 2010

Oops. Missed one. Leftover dhal. A simple one with a fair bit of cumin keeps me happy.
posted by Ahab at 7:17 AM on September 21, 2010

Seconding sauteed onions and chunks of cube steak. That's what I'm eating today.
posted by thsmchnekllsfascists at 7:48 AM on September 21, 2010

This recipe for roasted beet and tofu burgers (not gross! promise!) was really good, with some modifications: I added a half cup each of ground sunflower seeds (cashews would work also—the recipe author's "fat free" thing isn't my bag, nor would it be yours, from the sounds of things) and wheat gluten powder (to make the thing more substantial and hold together better), .5 tsp of ginger powder, 1 tsp cinnamon, and a pinch of cloves and nutmeg. I also used two reconstituted chipotle peppers, rather than her wussy .5 tsp of chile powder. Make eight patties instead of nine, and bake for closer to an hour instead of 30 minutes. 1-2 tsps of Marmite can be substituted for the soy sauce/nutritional yeast, and I threw in some balsamic vinegar just because.

The time outset is pretty high (a common problem with homemade veggie burgers), so, if I were making them again, I'd do a double batch and freeze them. They do freeze excellently. Mine looked eerily like actual beef (not the lurid pink you see on her blog), and they taste like autumn, but not in a particularly dessert-like way, thanks to the chipotles. They also avoid the trying-to-taste-like-meat mistake of so many veggie burgers.

They went especially nicely with dill vegan "mayo" (again, not gross! I eat the real stuff too, but make this by choice): a 12 oz package of silken tofu; 1 tb each of vinegar (your choice), lemon juice, and olive oil; 2 tsps corn starch (mix with the liquid ingredients if you want); and .5 tsp each of salt and sugar or to taste. Blend for a minute or two with a generous sprig of fresh dill. Turbo-good.
posted by wreckingball at 9:07 PM on September 21, 2010 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: I don't want to go through and pick best answers, as there are so many good ones. Thanks all for the responses, my sandwiches are much better now.
posted by 517 at 7:57 PM on October 13, 2010

« Older Some things are better left dead. Is this one of...   |   htaccess multi-domain redirect issues Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.